8

In the first book, Dumbledore explicitly stated that going into the Forbidden Forest was well, forbidden. Yet, when Harry, Ron and Draco got detention in the first (and second?) book, they went into the Forest to help Hagrid.

They also freely went into the forest when using the Time Turner.

What was the cost of entering the Forbidden Forest? How strictly was the rule implemented?

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    The detention in the Forbidden Forest is only in the first book. – Hendrik Vogt Feb 27 '12 at 17:41
9

As pretty much ALL punishments in the book, the rule was implemented using a punishment at the discretion of:

  • Your head of house

  • Headmaster if the offense was bad enough.

Leaving aside the minor fact that you are likely to be offed in the Forest (between Aragog's family, centaurs, and anyone else in there that - as per the recent question - was dumped into the forest on account of being dangerous), the worst case scenario would be of course being expelled, if and only if Head of House recommended it and Headmaster agreed.

Lesser ones were points taken off your house, detention, or a stern lecture from house head/headmaster. Plus writing to parents - for some kids the parental reaction might be worse than teachers'.

The rules were definitely NOT applied uniformly - a troublemaker teacher favorite like Harry (and probably James) Potter or Tom Riddle could get away with a lot more with lesser punishments. I'm sure Neville would be in a LOT bigger trouble had he been wandering into the forest for no reason, but that's not in canon, just my speculation :)

As far as detention with Hagrid - that doesn't count. This was with the official school sanction, so not prohibited, and with Hagrid around, so a lot safer.

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    "Detention for entering the Forbidden forrest: Help Hagrid with chores in the Forbidden Forest." – OghmaOsiris Jan 25 '12 at 21:00
  • @OghmaOsiris - clean up thestral droppings for a day and you'll NEVER want to see the Forest ever again. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 25 '12 at 21:01
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    That is, if you can see the droppings in the first place. – OghmaOsiris Jan 26 '12 at 12:57
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    @OghmaOsiris - I'd ask but I'm sure someone will object and downvote :) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 26 '12 at 13:15
3

The Forbidden Forest was prohibited to all pupils.

Given the hostility of the Centaurs and other creatures living in the forest it was in the interest of the students safety to have it restricted.

Playing up the forest as being extremely dangerous made it a good punishment. As you can see from the terror that Malfoy experiences when he is told he will have to go in there.

As the Forbidden Forest became more and more of a dumping ground for dangerous unwanted creatures (Aragog, Fluffy, Dragons), it became even more necessary to encourage the students to stay away from it.

We see in the Chamber of Secrets and Half-Blood Prince that Hogwarts is always teetering on the brink of being closed down. Just a few near death experiences is enough to have the board of directors thinking about throwing in the towel on this 1000 year old institution of learning. They can't afford to be losing students hand over fist to the dangerous forest adjacent to the castle.

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    Do you have a reference for the quote you post? That quote appears in relation to the third-floor corridor in Harry's first year but I believe all Dumbledore had to say about the forbidden forest (at least in the first year) was that ... well... it was forbidden. – Dason Jan 25 '12 at 21:52
  • @Dason I cannot check the quote until I get home, but you are probably right. – Jack B Nimble Jan 25 '12 at 22:05
  • @Jack: Dason's right, Dumbledore says: "First years should note that the forest on the grounds is forbidden to all pupils. And a few of our older students would do well to remember that as well." ... "And finally, I must tell you that this year, the third-floor corridor on the right-hand side is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a very painful death." So it would be best if you adjust the first sentence of your answer. – Hendrik Vogt Feb 27 '12 at 17:11
  • @Jack: Thanks!! – Hendrik Vogt Feb 27 '12 at 18:04
2

The Forbidden Forest is forbidden, but it doesn't seem to be such a big deal, and its danger seems largely overhyped.

In Philosopher's Stone Dumbledore makes the following announcement:

"First years should note that the forest on the grounds is forbidden to all pupils. And a few of our older students would do well to remember that as well."

Dumbledore's twinkling eyes flashed in the direction of the Weasley twins.

Notice the "twinkling eyes". I would say this is indicative of how the rule is viewed. The forest is officially forbidden, but no one really cares. It's like a game where the mischievous students keep on going in and the staff keeps on telling them off, but both sides know that nothing will change. In fact, one might even say that Dumbledore enjoys it. Note that Dumbledore's educational philosophy is basically to let students break rules and do whatever they want in order to figure things out for themselves.

At the start of term in Order of the Phoenix Dumbledore similarly indicates that some of the students don't care about the rule (and that he probably doesn't care that they break it):

"First years ought to know that the forest in the grounds is out of bounds to students — and a few of our older students ought to know by now too." (Harry, Ron, and Hermione exchanged smirks.)

Hagrid, too, seems to think of it as some sort of game. As he tells Ron the first time they meet:

"Another Weasley, eh?" said Hagrid. "I spent half me life chasin' yer twin brothers away from the forest.

It is also noteworthy to contrast how Dumbledore announces that the forest is forbidden with how he announces that the third floor corridor is forbidden. Regarding the former, as mentioned, he simply stated that it is forbidden — and even this was with twinkling eyes. Regarding the latter, though, he is much more serious:

"And finally, I must tell you that this year, the third floor corridor on the right-hand side is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a very painful death."

Additionally, the door to the third floor corridor is actually locked (albeit a lock that can be opened wit a simple Alohamora), while there is no barrier preventing anyone from entering the forest.

Hagrid takes a group of first year students into the forest and sends two of them off on their own with just a dog that he himself states is a coward:

Right, now, we're gonna split inter two parties an' follow the trail in diff'rent directions. There's blood all over the place, it must've bin staggerin' around since last night at least."

"I want Fang," said Malfoy quickly, looking at Fang's long teeth.

"All right, but I warn yeh, he's a coward," said Hagrid.

If the forest was truly so dangerous, Hagrid would not be able to send off two first years on their own like that. Indeed, he tells them:

an' if anyone gets in trouble, send up red sparks, an' we'll come an find yeh

Now if the two groups are far apart, it would take Hagrid at least a few minutes to come to the rescue. So clearly he is not worried that there is any real danger (i.e. something that would seriously hurt them before he would have time to get to them).

In fact, when you stop to think about it, we never really find any dangers terrorizing the forest. There's Aragog and his clan, but they are deep in the forest, well off the path, and don't seem to bother you unless you stray into their territory. Apart from them there's just the centaurs, who, until Hagrid gets on their bad side in Order of the Phoenix, seem to be perfectly affable to humans. There are, of course, the anomalies such as Voldemort, Grawp, dragons, etc. but those are not things that are inherently part of the forest; they are just things that are temporarily introduced into the forest.

Indeed, as Hagrid explicitly tells Harry, Malfoy, Neville, and Hermione:

"There's nothin' that lives in the forest that'll hurt yeh if yer with me or Fang," said Hagrid.

Note, that despite all this, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley seem to think the forest is actually a big deal. As Mr. says to Mrs. in the beginning of Prisoner of Azkaban:

"You know what Harry and Ron are like, wandering off by themselves — they've even ended up in the Forbidden Forest!

But then again, that Mr. and Mrs. Weasley seem to think that the forest is the primary danger at Hogwarts is somewhat laughable. #CluelessParents

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